There are some things that good salespeople know to say to a customer to get them to buy a product, or calm them down when they’re upset. Customer service is an art, and one that requires good communication. Part of good communication is knowing what not to say.

Research shows that customers are less likely to buy a product when they receive poor customer service – whether they’re new or returning customers. The way they are treated and spoken to has everything to do with that. Customers want to be treated as human beings, not a wallet. When they get a response that sounds generic, cliché, glib, annoying or rude, it turns them off to the product and company. Even if a sale is made or a customer’s complaint is resolved, if they feel they were treated unfairly, they will remember that and may not come back.

It’s tough being put on the spot when a customer has a complaint or is upset or argumentative. As a customer service representative, however, your goal is to please the customer and leave them not just with the product or solution they want, but with a good feeling about the interaction and your company. Rephrasing certain cliché phrases and aggressive statements into what you really mean to say can win customers’ loyalty more than any sale or deal could ever do. There are certain things you simply should not say.


“I don’t know”

You are the expert on the product or service offered by your company. In the customer’s eyes, you’re the go-to person for all their needs. If you say “I don’t know,” it puts a stress on the customer because if you don’t know, who does? If you really don’t know, look it up or ask someone and tell the customer you’ll find out.


“You’re not listening to me”

Customers try their best to communicate exactly what it is they want. Your explanation of how you can help them is based on your strong knowledge of the product and company policies. They don’t have that same knowledge, so if they don’t understand you at first, don’t blame them. Be patient and don’t treat them like they’re stupid.


“It’s nothing to worry about”

The concerns of your customer are your concerns, too. Never belittle their problems, no matter how small they seem. And if it does turn out to be a bigger problem, and you say this, you’ll look ignorant and insensitive to boot.


“No one’s ever complained about that before”

This comment makes your company sound perfect and untouchable – which is never true of any company, and customers know it. Saying this implies that there must be something wrong with the customer to be complaining about it. While you may not have heard the particular complaint, it doesn’t mean that someone hasn’t had the same thought before – they just might not have said anything. Listen to all your customer’s comments – it will give insight into some things the company may have missed.


“That’s not my job”

This sentence basically says, “I can’t help you.” Most customers are looking for help and a sympathetic ear. It’s your job to listen and do everything in your power to keep their business. Whether or not something they request is really in your job description, addressing it becomes your job when they request it.


“That’s against our policy”

While you may not be able to accommodate every wish and whim a customer asks for (or demands), it’s usually possible to make them happy. Simply saying it’s against policy makes it sound like the final word, like slamming the door in their face. See what you can do for them within the bounds of the policy without bringing the policy up.


“We apologize for the inconvenience”

This is one of the most cold and impersonal messages in the customer service industry, up there with “You’re a valued customer,” and “Your satisfaction is important to us.” Just dump these phrases in the trash. Rather than saying them, live them. Your customers will see you mean it through your actions.

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Posted by Agnes Jozwiak

Agnes is the Brand & Communication Director at ClickMeeting.

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